“Deep CSR companies do exist”

In my last blog post I talked about the phenomenon of CSR light companies and what their traits are. I also mentioned some examples of enterprises which perform in such a way.

Unfortunately, I recognized that I offered a quite pessimistic view about the performance of CSR activities. Indeed, there are lots of firms which use CSR projects and marketing campaigns to improve their image.
However, professionals already developed another, more optimistic opinion about Corporate Social Responsibility.

“Deep CSR companies do exist” says Karsten Kilian, brand consultant of markenlexikon.com.

But what is the difference between deep CSR and CSR light companies?
Don´t they all have actually the same goal (a more sustainable and an ethical right (working) environment)?
Which companies are CSR deep?

Fastexposure has the answers!

How are CSR heavyweights characterized?

Unfortunately, there is no clear definition about what deep CSR actually is. It is more about some common character traits of companies practicing such actions.

Karsten Kilian summarizes such traits like this:

“Examples of real CSR (companies) have in common that they treat their employees, environment and the society as a whole, they reduce their cost and can offer added value to their customers.”

That means that companies adopt business models with the goal to improve social and environmental conditions.
They realized the danger of the low-quality benefits of CSR light companies and try to do business according to “real trade-offs” like

  • Sustainable consumption
  • Resource extraction
  • Just transitions
  • Intergenerational equity

All in all, the so called “CSR heavyweights” are embodied by enterprises which understand and practice Corporate Social Responsibility with success.

But which companies are known to be CSR deep?

Deep CSR Role Models

A good example for a CSR heavyweight is “dm”, a German drug store, which focuses on the improvement of workplace conditions of its employees and human rights. This philosophy was established by Götz Werner, founder and CEO of the drugstore chain since 2003, and contains the following concept:

  • dm focuses on the needs and well-being of its workers
  • employees are asked to work on their own responsibility
  • the company supports the worker´s self-development
  • open-minded for new innovations
  • personnel are treated as an enrichment for the company rather than its cost
  • “learning organization”

Götz Werner supports this concept:

“If there were no human beings, economy would not exist. Therefore, the economy exist because of people and not vice versa.”

Therefore, dm´s business philosophy suits its advertising slogan “Hier bin ich Mensch, hier kauf ich ein” (“I´m a human being here, thus I buy here. “) very well. The customer recognizes the appropriate exposure of the workers and with himself. Thus he feels comfortable about shopping at dm which increases the firm´s profit.
As you see, practicing real CSR and earning money is not a contradiction!

Another successful deep CSR company is Hipp, the German manufacturer of baby food. This is because the production of mash & Co. is based on organic farming; even since 1956! Therefore, Hipp is a deep CSR company because it pays attention to an environmental friendly production. Like “Frosta”, one of the leading market forces in the German frozen food branch, Hipp avoids preservatives and uses only natural ingredients as well.

In this advertisement, Claus Hipp, CEO and founder of the company, emphasizes the company´s philosophy about being sustainable:

Even technology ventures can do business sustainable and in accordance with CSR, for example “ebmpapst”. This company offers for example ec-fans which reduce the emission of carbon dioxide by 30% and operation expenses even by 41%. Thus, ebmpapst realizes its desire to combine entrepreneurial responsibility and success because the enterprise´s revenue was approximately 1.311 billion dollars in 2010/11.

Moreover, companies like Trigema, Miele, Henkel KG and Rewe are also known as representatives of deep CSR companies because they also track a sustainable and CSR oriented way of doing business.

As you see, there still are companies practicing real CSR activities and avoid CSR light ones. Those enterprises should be the role model for companies which are not known as being CSR deep.
CSR light companies embody a social “danger” which is described by Anders Abrahamsson, “sustainopreneur” and qualitative intentional networker, very appositely:

“You need to move from PR talk to PT walk – from “Public Relations” words to actions that generates Public Trust. Your premier stakeholders – employees, customers and the third party “society” – own your brand and reputation anyways. You better live your words; otherwise you will not live to even have a word.

“Very true!


About Lilly

Hei! Moi! Terve! My name is Lilly and I am a German business student spending two semesters abroad in Helsinki, Finland. I already felt in love with my new home in August, but now I decided to share my experiences with you. My aim is to give you an understanding of Finland itself, its culture as well as some advices at first hand; but hopefully, you are also convinced to get your own impressions visiting this breathtaking country at least once in your life. Tervetuloa!
This entry was posted in Corporate Social Responsibility and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to “Deep CSR companies do exist”

  1. Pingback: This week on FastExposure « fastexposure

  2. Nicpic says:

    Hi Lilly,
    great job on your follow up post. I really enjoyed reading both of your posts and trying to understand a bit more about CSR.
    I was surprised to read that DM and Rewe qualify as CSR heavy weights, I was definitely not expecting that and now I fell even better shopping there.
    The included video was well chosen and as always you have a very easy going and pleasant way of writing. Even though you do not include personal experience you create a relation to the reader through your style of writing.
    I have read most of your work with great pleasure, however at this point I have to admit that I thought this was one of your weaker posts.
    I missed the usual entertaining pictures and in my eyes the post lacked some depth. I missed some more evidence on what really defines a CSR deep company. If you did not find a definition why not consider including more opinions on the subject.
    Moreover have you thought about introducing concrete examples of what the companies do to qualify as heavyweights?
    Furthermore like mentioned in my comment on your previous post I still think you use too much bold. It makes your post a bit messy. Have you ever considered just choosing five core words you really want to emphasize and put them in bold? A suggestion that might help you just put the authors in italic instead of bold.
    Another thing that might be interesting to know is: Who actually decides which company is CSR light deep ! Did you find any clues to this question during your research?
    Again I have to emphasize how much I enjoy reading your posts and hope you find my input useful!
    Cheers Nicky

  3. katharinakueppers says:

    Hey Lilly,
    I have to agree with Nicky, your text still does look messy to me too.
    I wish you would have considered my input from last week and didn’t work with that much bold.
    All the hyperlinks, quotes, bold, italic, underlining and even lists show that you don’t want your post to be boring, but diverse. But I think that by using all this methods to make your post come alive, it rather makes the reader confused and nervous, because the brain can’t take in everything what the eyes see when looking at your post.
    But of course we are talking on a very high level of quality here, so don’t worry!
    I really enjoy reading your post because they give me a very nice and detailed overview over a topic.
    Also you did a great job connecting your two last posts with each other:
    ‘Light’ and ‘Heavyweight’ CSR companies, I know everything now!
    I think I might even include some of the facts that you offered in my ‘WBS’ essay about CSR…
    of course only if you don’t mind 😉

  4. Pingback: The “CSR double life” of Deichmann « fastexposure

  5. lilmeu says:

    Hey Nicki, hey Katharina!
    Thank you for your comments!
    Unfortunately, I wasn´t able to answer you until now, sorry for that!
    However, I have to agree with you when you criticize that my blog post looks somehow messy. I tried to use as much style advices as possible to make my entry more attractive and to create a structure. As you might have seen, I avoided this in my latest blog posts. Does it looks better now?
    I also didn´t include funny and humorous visuals because I got the feedback from Dr.B. that this won´t be really professional. Thus I tried to be more serious about the topic and inserted more quotations of professionals instead of some irony.
    I hope that I have answered some of your most important questions and really like to hear some feedback from you again! 🙂

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